While people can receive training to assist with evaluating a person's psychiatric health, there are also many tools that are designed to help with a diagnosis. While the number of different tools and tests is quite vast and varies greatly, there are several that are very commonly used and respected by the psychiatric community.
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Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM, is considered the most important method of diagnosing mental disorders. It is published by the American Psychiatric Association and has descriptions of many mental disorders. It works by not only assessing the problem, but by noting how much the problem impacts a person's life. There are several editions of this book, all with different disorders and diagnoses. Editions other than the most recent are considered outdated for the purposes of diagnosis.
Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory
The Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory is a true/false questionnaire that takes less than 30 minutes for an average person to complete. It is designed to reveal personality traits or characteristics of a person and is considered to be very useful in that it can reveal aspects of a person to assist in making a diagnosis more quickly than a traditional clinical interview. Like the DSM, there are several versions of this test, and only the most recent is considered valid.
Beck Depression Inventory
The Beck Depression Inventory is a test that is designed to be used alongside the DSM in order to clarify a diagnosis of depression. While this is a possible use, this test is mainly used to evaluate the effectiveness of treatments for depression. This test uses weighted ratings and asks questions regarding the typical symptoms of depression such as depressed mood, poor self-image and withdrawing socially. This test is updated to match the current DSM.
Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory
The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory is a very common test that is used by clinicians to differentiate between potential diagnoses as well as to plan and evaluate treatment. However, this is a very popular test and is commonly used outside of clinical settings as well, such as penal institutions and human resources departments. This test is found to be remarkably accurate at predicting treatment outcomes. Like most psychiatric tests, there are several versions of the MMPI.
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- AllPsych Online: Psychiatric Disorders, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV)
- Psyche Central: Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory (MCMI-III); Jane Framingham, Ph.D.
- Real Depression Help: Beck Depression Inventory
- Psychological Assessment; "The Incremental Validity of the MMPI-2: When Does Therapist Access Not Enhance Treatment Outcome?"; Elizabeth N. Lima et al.; 2005